(Courtroom One Gavel by Joe Gratz; some rights reserved.)

Every new year, Jews are told to seek forgiveness for the “sins we have sinned.” It sounds fairly straight forward, but it’s not, especially for people who are prone to over-thinking. On what basis should we judge our behavior and those sins? The Bible? An internal moral compass? And how broad should our self-examination be? Are we looking only at how we treat our parents, or should we also consider our neighbors, our community, our fellow citizens, or perhaps all living beings?

Michael Sandel cannot answer those questions. He’s neither a rabbi nor a scholar of Jewish thought (at least, not by profession); he’s a professor of government at Harvard. He is, however, very good at explaining ways of thinking about right and wrong, as the many thousands of undergraduates who have taken his course on justice can attest. He spoke with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about health care, Wall Street bonuses, and other collisions of politics and ethics.